With FC Barcelona set to host Liga leaders Real Madrid CF for the 81st time at Camp Nou on Monday, UEFA.com assesses some of the key encounters ahead of one of the world's most anticipated games.
Josep Guardiola versus José Mourinho
Yet to taste a defeat in 'El Clásico' as coach of the Azulgrana, 'Pep' has emerged victorious on all four occasions his team have faced their great rivals since he took over in 2008. Yet the former midfielder knows that record will be severely tested against a side who are unbeaten in all competitions at this stage of the season for the first time since the 1988/89 campaign.
Mourinho will be looking for his first triumph at the home of his former employers after two draws and two defeats with Chelsea FC and FC Internazionale Milano respectively.
Lionel Messi versus Cristiano Ronaldo
"Comparing me with Messi is ridiculous; this is a game between the two best teams in Spain," said Ronaldo ahead of Madrid's attempt to win away at their rivals for a 19th time in the Liga. Undeterred, the Spanish media are billing the meeting of the last two FIFA World Players of the Year as a "Battle for the Pichichi".
The Portuguese currently leads the goalscoring charts on 14 goals, one ahead of his challenger, yet the Argentinian can count on a record of seven goals in eight games against Los Merengues. Only Samuel Eto'o has managed to find the net more times against Iker Casillas.
New faces making their mark
Barcelona's David Villa, Javier Mascherano and Adriano will be more enlightened about what to expect on Monday evening. Villa registered seven goals against the current Liga leaders during his time at Valencia CF while Adriano [with Sevilla FC] and Mascherano [with Liverpool FC] also tasted success against Los Merengues.
For their part, Ricardo Carvalho, Ángel di María, Sami Khedira and Mesut Özil - all ever present in the Liga this term - will be eager to taste success in their first Spanish 'derby.'
What the papers say
Spanish daily ABC says, "Barça's patience faces Madrid's intensity" before going on to point out that despite differing styles the teams have both scored 33 goals in 12 league games.
El Pais leads with "Messi's big date" and explains that although the attacker has an excellent record against Madrid, he has failed to register in eight games against teams led by Mourinho. Casillas, meanwhile, told sports publication Marca that Monday's game would "go a long way to deciding the league winners".
"Let's see if they can score eight against us." Ronaldo responds to the Spanish champions' 8-0 drubbing of UD Almería last weekend.
"Watch out because when you least expect it the others really can knock in eight against you." Former Azulgrana winger Hristo Stoichkov answers back.
"This is going to be spectacular; both teams have players capable of changing the game in an instant." Current Getafe CF coach and former Madrid player Míchel enthuses.
"We have the responsibility to give the world an exceptional spectacle." José Mourinho promises.
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